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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Hiring freeze bill moves through Senate

    PHOENIX – A measure to freeze all university hiring and promotions for the remainder of the fiscal year moved one step closer to fruition yesterday after the Senate Appropriations Committee approved HB 2043.

    On Feb. 21, the governor’s office instituted a hiring freeze across all state government executive agencies, except those deemed vital to the health or safety of the public or to the collection or investment of state revenues.

    These did not include the universities, although at the time, UA President Robert Shelton said the university is mindful of the state’s budget issues.

    Sen. Bob Burns, chairman of the Senate’s appropriations committee, said he thinks the bill is close to reaching Gov. Janet Napolitano’s desk, but said he thinks the bill is long overdue.

    “”I’m very frustrated with the fact that this was not done through the executive office months ago,”” he said. “”I think the governor should have been much more proactive on trying to get this fiscal crisis under control.””

    Burns said he thinks Napolitano should take more responsibility for the fiscal crisis, and that the hiring freeze isn’t enough.

    “”It just doesn’t get it done,”” he said.

    Less than 30 percent of the UA’s budget comes from state sources, but state funding supports roughly 50 percent of employee salaries.

    The bill is an emergency measure that prohibits all state agencies from using state money to hire or promote employees for the remainder of the fiscal year, ending June 30.

    The university currently has 457 vacant positions, about half of which are funded through state dollars, UA spokesman Johnny Cruz wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

    “”We’re continuing to limit hires to those critical to the university’s mission,”” he wrote.

    The UA named Meredith Hay, vice president for research at the University of Iowa, as its next executive vice president and provost Feb. 22.

    If her appointment is approved by the Arizona Board of Regents at its meeting Friday, she will begin April 30.

    Her appointment would not be affected by this bill, as it has yet to become law.

    The bill passed through the Senate committee yesterday but was amended to clarify some language and now will go back to the House. If the amendment is approved there, the bill will return to the Senate, whereafter it would go to the governor’s office.

    Upon Napolitano’s signature, the bill, as an emergency measure, would become law.

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